The Hood County Commissioners Court adopted the budget for the 2023-2024 fiscal year and adopted a property tax rate of .282622 per $100 valuation during a special called meeting on Sept. 19.
The budget for next year will raise more revenue from property taxes than last year’s budget by an amount of $456,467 — a 1.8 percent increase.
Before the budget was passed, Hood County residents came up to the podium to express their opinion on the agenda item.
“I know that there has been a great deal of time devoted to the development of this particular budget, and I also know that there have been repeated changes that have had to be made to it because of the fact that figures coming from the state and things of that nature have necessitated repeated revisions to the budget,” said Hood County resident Jerry Doherty. “I wanted to express my appreciation to the commissioner's court as a whole, for the fact that you've been willing to take the time and put in the extra effort to make sure that the numbers that we're adopting are accurate . . . so, to everybody that had anything to do with the development of this and the revision of it, and the assurance that we've gotten the numbers correct, I'm greatly appreciative of that.”
Former Hood County Republican Party Chair Nate Criswell also thanked Hood County Judge Ron Massingill, Hood County Commissioners, and Kidd for performing their due diligence in “what is the most vital function in Hood County Commissioners Court,” — adopting the budget and setting the property tax rate.
"I think y'all should be commended, because, for the first time in history, we are adopting a budget and a tax rate that puts us well below the no new revenue rate, and while I'm sure Commissioner Eagle’s still gonna vote against it, because it's not low enough, I think it's a good thing the way this all works out and I just wanted to give you my sincere, ‘thank you,’” Criswell said.
Richard Hoefs, a member of Granbury’s Planning and Zoning Commission, cited inconsistencies in the budget on the “subtotal” and “total” lines.
“The dollar numbers are right in the budget — it's just the percentages that are incorrect in just the total and subtotal lines, so I would encourage you to continue to move forward with the great work you've done, and vote to approve the budget with the proviso that either that percentage column be deleted, or that it be validated as correct before published to the public so there's no concern or miscommunication,” Hoefs said.
Kidd explained to Hoefs that the errors are due to exporting the Excel spreadsheet.
Granbury resident Tina Brown questioned why the budget showed the district attorney was given an incentive pay and salary supplement totaling $23,200.
Kidd then explained that the extra funds were due to three investigators completing their master certificate pay program and that the extra funds are not going to the district attorney.
Doherty also recommended that the Hood County Commissioners Court go into recess to make sure the numbers in the budget were correct before taking a final vote, which spurred Precinct 2 Commissioner Nannette Samuelson to make a motion for a 15-minute recess.
“This is the most important thing that we do as commissioners is to ensure that the accuracy and the budget is correct,” she said.
Following the recess, the commissioners approved the budget as presented with a 4:1 vote, as Precinct 4 Commissioner Dave Eagle voted “Nay.”
The tax rate, as recommended by Hood County Auditor Becky Kidd is a .048 (or 15%) decrease from the 2022 tax rate of .331129 and is a “nickel less” than the no-new revenue rate of .287622.
With the new tax rate, the average homeowner would pay $73 less, and the total tax levy on all properties increased by 1.8% or $456,467.
“If you compare the No New Revenue Rate with the one Commissioners Court approved, the difference is only $17 more, and the homeowner is still paying less than last year,” Kidd said, in an email to the HCN. “But the difference in revenue of $450,872 would buy 9-12 new vehicles or cover a good portion of the raises/benefits given for fiscal year 2024.”
“I appreciate all the efforts that have been put forth in this budget cycle, and I certainly appreciate Commissioner (Kevin) Andrews cutting down a little bit more from what was proposed in the beginning,” Eagle said, during the meeting. “I had proposed a rate that was another .58 cents lower than this one, and I feel like that was a doable rate. It didn't get any marinated discussion, and it didn't get much traction, which is fine. We're not the school board up here. We don't have to all agree, so nothing personal. No emotional charge to this, but I think we could go lower, but that's my comment.”
Samuelson asked what the rate was that Eagle had previously proposed, which he replied as being .276800.
The property tax rate of .282622 was then voted on, with Eagle voting “Nay,” in a 4:1 vote. The motion carried.